SCOTT WILSON COLUMN: Ten sporting tips for 2013

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

South Africa to win the Africa Cup of Nations (9-1)

It might cause Premier League managers no end of headaches, but the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins in South Africa next month, is the year's first major football tournament.

Ivory Coast are the short-priced favourites, and while they have slipped up countless times in the past, the Elephants should take some stopping.

The hosts tend to do well in this competition though, and while the current South Africa side is hardly a vintage crop, they boast a useful blend of youth and experience. Throw in the emotion of Nelson Mandela recently leaving hospital, and you have the ingredients for a home success.

France to win the Six Nations (5-2)

England's recent win over New Zealand created a surge of home optimism ahead of the start of the Six Nations Championship, with Stuart Lancaster's side finally mastering the kind of open, expansive rugby that the Twickenham crowd craves.

But France also enjoyed a successful autumn, most notably when they thrashed a full-strength Australia, and Les Blues are further down the development path than their English rivals.

Their away matches in London and Dublin will be tough, but provided they win one of them, they should be crowned champions.

Bayern Munich to win the Champions League (13-2)

With the English sides struggling, most people are predicting a clear path for either Barcelona or Real Madrid to triumph in the Champions League.

The Spanish sides are worthy favourites, but German giants Bayern Munich, who only lost to Chelsea on penalties in last season's final, look overpriced alternatives at an inviting 13-2.

They should have too much for Arsenal in the first knock-out round and will be extremely hard to beat in their later matches if they continue to transfer their Bundesliga form onto the European stage.

My Tent Or Yours to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival (10-1)

With Kauto Star having retired and last year's winner, Synchronised, having died in the Grand National, this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup looks wide open. Similarly, the Champion Hurdle currently looks too close to call.

There is value to be had elsewhere though, and Nicky Henderson's talented novice, My Tent Or Yours, is a stand-out pick in the Supreme Novices', the opening race of the Festival.

The five-year-old has only run once over hurdles, but his win at Ascot in November set tongues wagging and his price will contrast markedly if he wins at Newbury tomorrow.

Mark Selby to win the World Snooker Championship (8-1)

With fans' favourite Ronnie O'Sullivan suggesting that he might not defend his world title in Sheffield this spring, a number of his rivals are currently available at much longer odds than they are likely to be come the start of the competition.

Mark Selby falls into that category and having recently won the UK Championship, the Leicester potter finally looks capable of living up to his billing as world number one.

The 29-year-old has failed to make the world final since he finished as runner-up to John Higgins in 2007, but his form over the last 12 months means he should not be as long as an 8-1 shot.

Luke Donald to win a Major (9-2)

He has flattered to deceive on the biggest stage so many times in the past, but Luke Donald is simply too good to go much longer without finally landing his first Major.

The Englishman has been close to the top of the world rankings for quite a while now and boasts a game devoid of any glaring weaknesses. His driving is straight and reliable, while his short game is as good as anyone in the world.

His temperament has let him down in the past, but he held his nerve superbly in this year's Ryder Cup and with four chances – all of which will be on courses that suit him – this should finally be the year when he ends his Major drought.

England to win the Ashes (4-6)

The biggest sporting event of the summer will see England attempt to defend the Ashes on home soil, with the fourth of the five Tests being staged at Chester-le-Street.

Alastair Cook's side were at the top of their game as they beat India this month, and while Australia are finally showing signs of resurgence in their current series against Sri Lanka, they remain a work in progress.

England can claim to be the finished article, and with Kevin Pietersen successfully rehabilitated and James Anderson playing some of the best cricket of his career, it is hard to see anything other than a convincing home series win.

Serena Williams to win Wimbledon (8-5)

Will Andy Murray land his first Wimbledon title this summer? He's certainly capable of doing so, but his success at the US Open combined with the inevitable weight of home support means his price will always be much shorter than it should be.

The history books suggest a much safer bet is to stick with Serena Williams, who tends to underachieve for months on end before turning up at Wimbledon to put her opponents to the sword.

The American has been all but unbeatable on grass in recent seasons, and with the women's game lacking a stand-out champion capable of emerging from the pack, a sixth Wimbledon singles title beckons.

Bradley Wiggins to retain the Tour de France (3-1)

At the moment, Team Sky are suggesting that Chris Froome will be their lead rider in this summer's Tour de France. Come July, though, it is hard to imagine they will not be pulling out all the stops to help Bradley Wiggins attempt to defend his title.

The best time trial rider in the world by a distance, Wiggins will surely establish a lead over Froome in the opening week of the race.

If that happens, is there really a chance of Team Sky ordering the reigning Sports Personality of the Year to damage his own ambitions in order to support a relatively unproven rival? And even if they do, will Wiggins listen?

Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford all to add the World Championship title to their Olympic crowns (5-4)

They might not command as much attention as this summer's Olympics, but next summer's World Athletics Championships in Moscow promise to provide plenty of highlights.

From a domestic perspective, much of the focus will be on Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford as they attempt to emulate this summer's successes and claim the world crown.

Long jumper Rutherford could have the toughest task as reigning world champion Dwight Phillips is set to return from the injury that prevented him competing in London, but all three British stars are more than capable of succeeding again

* The cumulative odds of the ten tips is 5,450,414-1.

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